Have you ever said to yourself “Oh, I could NEVER do that!” but secretly deep down inside wish that you could?
That was me, about 11 years ago. I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends and her husband. We were discussing a heap of things fitness related – half marathons, marathons, triathlons, etc. My friend’s husband had just completed his first Ironman 70.3 (1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, and 21km run) and I remember saying “Oh I think I’d like to do a half Ironman, but I don’t think I could actually ever do it”. He replied with “Of course, you could!” and then right there, in the middle of our conversation, came out all of my verbal diarrhoea of excuses. “I don’t like swimming in the ocean – too scared”, “I am not very fast at running”, “I don’t have a road bike”. The very thought of it absolutely terrified me. The part that scared me the most was failure. Failing to not complete it, looking stupid for even attempting it, not being good enough to even get to the start line.
I think back to that moment now and roll my eyes and laugh. One-half marathon done, multiple sprint triathlons and aquathlons done, and two Ironman 70.3s under my belt!
If I only knew then, what I know now.
If you have something you want to achieve but you are too afraid to do it – or perhaps you haven’t even realised you are afraid – you just keep putting it off with “It’s not the right time”, then I want to share what helped me go from that space to getting things done and on my way to achieving my dreams.
I don’t want you to sit and wait, wondering “what if” for the next 11 years like I did. I say get in there and start living your life!
Courage vs. Fear
A lot of the time our subconscious and ego like to “play it safe” keeping us well within our comfort zone of “mediocre”. I get it – some people like that space. Some of us want to stay there – but there are also others, like me, that want to do awe-inspiring things but find themselves a little “stuck”. I want to help inspire many (of you) to step out of your comfort zone. Push your own boundaries. THINK BIGGER! Because what is waiting for you, on the other side is a pretty unbelievable feeling! I so want that for all of you! Do you really want that for yourself? Do you have a little fire in your belly? A spark of electricity running through your veins, knowing you were put here to do more – BE MORE!
Believe me when I say – that feeling – the feeling of completing something amazing – is absolutely EPIC and can be yours if you want it.
You’d Never Think of It This Way
Let’s use an example that many of us would never even think twice about. Learning to drive (I’m assuming most of you reading know how to drive). I realise that may be a while a go for some of us – don’t sweat it. Take your time.
I was 16. In Adelaide, Australia, as soon as you turn 16 you can get your “L” plates, i.e. your learner’s permit, to drive. I could not wait. I was a bunch of nerves. Getting my driver’s licence meant more to me than just driving! It meant flexibility and freedom. I was truly pumped. The day I turned 16 I was at the Vehicle and Licensing Office and took my test.
3 days later I tried again.
Yep. I failed twice!
It wasn’t until my 3rd attempt, almost 2 weeks and $60 later that I finally passed. And I’d only JUST got it with 1 mark above the pass level.
With each failed attempt my confidence took a blow. On the 3rd attempt I had lost the sparkle and excitement of why I wanted my licence. Instead, all I felt was “I’m stupid and not good enough”. Our egos love this! It (our ego) likes us to remember these moments. It comes back time and time again saying “Hey remember when… maybe you shouldn’t do it again?” For some of you, this may have stopped or discouraged you from ever trying again. For others though, somehow you have a little spark of hope left. So, you try again. Braced with my doubts, I did! Then, once I got that pass, I went to practice. I had lesson after lesson, with a professional driving instructor, my mum, and my dad. Yeah, the first few were absolutely terrible. I remember one of the cars I was driving, and the car horn decided to toot on its own – it got stuck. In a panic I lifted (both) my hands off the steering wheel to show (all the oncoming cars) I wasn’t tooting at them. I was so worried about what all the other drivers would be thinking of me – “Who on earth does she think she is!?”, “Why is she tooting at us, she is the one cutting in front”.
Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds!? Those other drivers would have a) not known who on earth I was, b) were paying attention to their own driving and avoiding me cutting in front of them (narrow escape) and c) would have barely been able to see who I was anyway!
How on earth I didn’t have a car accident at that moment is beyond me. Anyway, let’s get back to the point. It was with practice and making LOTS of silly mistakes that I eventually received my probationary and then full licence. Fast forward 25+ years and I’ve only ever had 1 small fender bender accident (at 17 years of age) and I consider myself a very confident advanced driver to this day.
From Comfort to Courage
So, what is it that takes us from our comfort zone – where we don’t know how to drive yet but want to learn? The answer you seek is “courage”.
To grow from our comfort zone, we must take action. When we take action, even with failed attempts, our courage grows. What was once fear-inducing, then becomes part of our comfort zone. If we focus on failure, then we will forever live in fear. Focus on courage. Courage turns up and we succeed.
So that’s it? You ask, is it really that simple? Well, yes, and no. You see when we take action like I said, courage will grow. But usually what happens is we have some failed attempts first and our ego gets all excited and butts in with the negative self-talk. We listen to that, and some procrastination sets in. A little bit of “I will get to it later”, “Perhaps now isn’t the right time”, and “Maybe this ‘means’ I’m not meant to do it” (rolling my eyes!).
For some of us though this all gets too loud and we eventually give up on whatever it was we wanted to achieve. Now if this is you, and you have been in this spot and regret not having completed whatever it was you really wanted to do then THIS is where we need to do a little more work. This takes going a little deeper within ourselves, to help us recognise what our fears are, and how they show up for us and how we can navigate through them, yet again. Once we have this knowledge, we can change our narrative and actions to help move ourselves forward to our EPIC-NESS.
Steps to Success
We all have underlying fears. Rhonda Britten, Fearless Living, suggests we have 4; the fear of being judged, the fear of not being loved, the fear of not belonging, and the fear of not being “enough”. We may have all 4 and be really stuck in our life. According to Rhonda, fears show up in all sorts of ways from procrastination, to blame and excuses – “Oh I’m not ready yet”, “When I have more money, I will…”, and “When the kids are grown up, I will then be able to…” – to isolating ourselves from others or even sabotaging ourselves so we can prove that we “aren’t good enough”.
You can throw at me all the excuses under the sun. I’ve heard them all – mostly from my own mind and mouth! However, once you realise you are on “the wheel of fear” then you can help yourself get off it! Let your courage step in and create the life you have wanted to live/have.
The first part is all about realising what your fear is, acknowledging it, and accepting it. Thank it for being a part of you and keeping you safe. But from here on in, you’re taking your life back and you’re going to “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
If you have a big goal in front of you, break it down into smaller chunks. A big part of self-sabotage is choosing a goal that is so high that you set yourself up for failure before you have even begun. See the end vision, then break it down into smaller, simpler goals and tasks.
Fail and fail fantastically! Failure is feedback. It’s communication and it’s good communication. It’s telling you this way didn’t quite work out – so go back, reassess, and try again. Hire a coach or mentor who has done and been successful with what it is you want to do. Learn from them. If they have success, then I can bet you they would have had the failures that came with it and probably a lot of the same ones you are having. So get help!
Celebrate your small steps. Everything that is an improvement or moving you forward needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. Often once we get on the road of doing-doing-doing, we forget to celebrate the micro steps that got us there. Those micro steps are so important. For me, I’m trying to improve my public speaking. I am running a mini workshop, at my home, with 5 of my friends. They are my friends; they already love me for who I am, but I STILL have nerves and the fear keeps coming up. It’s normal!
But I have done the steps beforehand. I’ve broken down the goals of the workshop to get me through the 90 minutes. I expect to stumble and be nervous (heck, I may even cry out of nerves) but I also know that by 11am, if I haven’t fainted or died, then that’s a win! I will celebrate it. Each step pushes me towards becoming a better public speaker – even writing this article has given me points for my workshop – I’m already fist bumping the air (in celebration) with this little realisation. Celebrate! Be proud of your achievements.
Once you have achieved it and celebrated – Reflect. Have a look at what you went through to overcome what you thought you once couldn’t do. Notice what fears were obstructing your way, when they got in the way, what came up, and how you got on with it. Take note of all the positive traits that showed up in those moments of achievement and success. We all too often forget about these when we are faced with another challenge. We end up like a deer in front of headlights and those fears all come rushing back.
In this reflection, you can see you were consistent, dedicated, determined, courageous, and strong. Re-draw from this knowledge that you can do it again!
Going back to my fears and completing the Ironman 70.3 was a win. I know I have a huge fear around “not being good enough”. I’ve drummed up these stories and negative self-beliefs over my lifespan. Now that I know this and because I’ve done the work, I recognise when this is coming up for me. I used to compare myself to my other triathlete friends “They are so much faster than me, they are smaller than me, they have faster bikes than me”.
I used to worry about judgements from others about me in my tri-suit (I’m not a “typical” triathlete stature). I used to think I will never be good enough to finish it. I would procrastinate or work myself up with such anxiety that I wouldn’t go train. I’d make an excuse not to train, or I’d have 2 or 3 glasses of wine the night before and be too sick to train (yes, I’m very much a 2-pot screamer here). Once I realised, I was sabotaging myself I looked in the mirror and gave myself a good talking to “If I really wanted to do this then stop with the excuses, just follow the steps and the system and give it a go!” It meant taking 100% responsibility for me, doing the work, and getting to that finish line.
I’ve now done it, twice!
It takes time – YES – there is no magic pill that gives you what you want overnight. You MUST put in the work. But when you do! WHEN you do, and you get to the end it is absolutely fantastic. The feelings of elation and realising: it is ALL YOU – YOU DID IT. It is so epic! (Hoping you can sense the excitement in my writing). So, what is holding you back? What is it that you have wanted to achieve but always let excuses and self-doubt get in your way?
I once had a mentor say “The best time to start was 10 years ago, then 3 years ago. But if you didn’t start it then, today is the day!” Go forth and rock it!
I know you can. I believe in you.
If you would like to know more about fears and how they are holding you back, Sharee would love to connect and offers a free mini “Wheel of Fear” exercise with you (45 minutes). You can reach her by email: [email protected] or WhatsApp: +96894445369.